Self-Publish or Use a Traditional Publisher?

Pros and cons of choosing how to publish.

Posted Sep 23, 2017

Used with permission / Shambhala
Source: Used with permission / Shambhala

When I wrote Writing from the Senses, I wanted a commercial publisher, and ultimately I went with Shambhala, which had published other books I admired. Acquisitions editors screen submissions, and choose very few, which elevates the book. Anyone can self-publish, but not everyone can have her book published by a major imprint.
Gone are the days when publishing houses sent many authors on book tours, paying their expenses. In my case, I had to set up readings across the country and pay my costs to get there. The publisher provided posters and press releases for the first year. Then I was mostly on my own. Still, it made a difference to be backed by a reputable publisher.
I had envisioned a small book of about 100 pages, one you could put in your pocket, take on a hike, sit by a stream and do a writing exercise.
"Oh no," said Shambhala. "A book must be 256 pages." (Now I hear it's closer to 300 pages.) Books have to have heft on the shelves of bookstores, make people feel like they're worth the $15 - 30 price tag.
The publisher had the book proofread, which was a plus. I haven't seen a typo, though I've read the book so many times, I might not notice.  
Of course, with self-publishing, you have to hire a cover designer, layout person, proofreader, and editor. But after expenses, your percentage is better. I get approximately $1 per book sold, whereas if you publish on Amazon, you get 70 percent of the cover price. Shambhala, my publisher, does do some distribution and trade shows, for which I would be responsible if I were self-publishing.
Now, I'm writing a memoir. I've written more than 100 pages, but I don't know if I'll be able to fill the remaining 200 with facts. I'm considering my options and whether to self-publish. If you're used to writing to memoir, like me (where fact is stranger than fiction), you may think fictionalizing is impossible. But maybe not.

Prompt: Imagine holding your book in your hands. How would it feel?

Copyright © 2017 by Laura Deutsch